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Putting it all on the line

Monday, September 27, 2010 by Marianne Elliott

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“The problem with putting it all on the line… is that it might not work out.

The problem with not putting it all on the line is that it will never (ever) change things for the better.”

Seth Godin

Last Wednesday morning I landed in Wellington after 38 hours of flying and three weeks of whirlwind travel and sat right down at my desk to put it all on the line.

I opened registrations for the Karma edition of my 30 days of yoga online course. In case you missed it, the basic idea is that I’ve invited people to choose what they pay for the course (the usual price is $100) and said that I would donate every dollar to HIV/AIDS projects in South Africa.

It was everything I had to give, and I gave it all.

Let me put this in context. Last year I made less than $20,000. This year I’m on track to make a little more, but not a lot. And yet, a few weeks ago I signed a pledge to raise $20,000 for these projects by 15 December.

Yeah, that’s right. I pledged to raise more than I made all year last year in under three months and then to give it all away.

Am I crazy?

I don’t think so. I hope not. Maybe a little.

Am I freaked out?

Hell, yeah.

I don’t know how to raise $20,000. I’ve never done anything like this before. All I know is that this is how generosity works (and because people seem to like laws, and because I was once a lawyer, I’m calling it the law of generosity):

The law of generosity: You give everything you have and, in turn, you receive everything you need.

That’s how it has always worked for me. So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve given everything I have. I’ve put it all on the line.

I didn’t really think much about it before I did it. It seemed the only thing to do. Yoga is about expansion, about liberation, about the constant movement of energy. You can’t hoard it. You can’t keep it to yourself.

So I put it all on the line. I offered to share everything I have built so carefully as part of the 30 days of yoga course with anyone who was willing to make a donation to these projects.

It wasn’t until the deed was done that the monsters came out to play.

Because the problem with putting it all on the line, as Seth puts it, is that it might not work out.

The monsters.

Within 24 hours of opening registrations for the Karma edition of 30 days of yoga the monsters showed up. They had all kinds of things to say. Most of which boiled down to this: What if this doesn’t work?

Maybe it won’t work.

Maybe I won’t raise the money I’ve pledged to raise. Maybe most people won’t understand the point of it all. Maybe most people will just think it’s a good chance to get a bargain.

But maybe it’s worth putting it all on the line even if I don’t know if it will work.

Because the problem with not putting it all on the line is that it will never (ever) change things for the better.

And that is the whole point.

In gratitude

Thank you Seth for reminding me, just in time, of the whole reason I did this crazy thing.

Thank you also Lisa and Fabeku for rescuing me from the clutches of the monsters and for being awesome.

Thank you Denise, Christine, Alex, Richenda, Lianne, Yoga Lila, Brene, Susannah, Jen, Andrea, Danielle, Randi, Karen, Bindu, Helen and many others for your generous support.

Thank you Helen and Yuki, and all the past participants of 30 days of yoga for understanding what this is all about.

Thank you to everyone who has signed up, to everyone who has given as much as they can.

And most of all, thank you to the amazing Jess Larsen and to my boyfriend who doesn’t get mentioned here very often because his life is his to write about or keep to himself as he pleases, but without whom this course wouldn’t exist.

It’s scary putting it all on the line, but with friends like this, I rekon I can handle it.


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6 Responses to "Putting it all on the line"

  1. Nic Wise says:

    “Maybe it won’t work.

    Maybe I won’t raise the money I’ve pledged to raise.”

    Is it a failure at $19500? I doubt it.

    Is it a failure at $10K? Nope, still 10K more that the charity had before.

    If it a failure at 5K? Nope, not really. Might have to rethink the plan if you want to try again, but still – 5K is 5K more than they had before.

    From my point of view, it’s all about defining what failure is, and what you do about it – learn, give up, whatever – if you dont hit your target…..

    If you _have to_ hit 20K (or more), maybe kickstarter is a better platform – people pledge the money, and the course only happens if you hit 20K (also, people only pay if you hit 20K). Problem is, if you hit 19.5K, then _nothing_ happens, which is (in my view) a fail – 19.5 is better than 0, even if it’s not 20.


  2. […] be hers, really. And now she’s doing something crazy. She’s pledged to raise $20,000 (more money than she earned last year) before 15th December for HIV/AIDS projects in South […]

  3. your generosity is so inspiring! i’d like to donate, whether or not i participate in the course. although now i’m feeling inspired to participate in the course, too!!

    truly~it’s souls like yours that have the power to revolutionize our world. thank you for your courage. it’s encouraging me in profound ways. <3

  4. Andi says:

    Wow, such an inspiring and empowering post!!! I know you can do it. I LOVE that you’ve put it all on the line and for such an awesome cause. Best wishes! XOXO

  5. Noah Fleming says:

    Great post.

    You’re in the zone, and yes, the lizard is going to show up time and time again, keep pushing…and push hard!

    I’ve got no doubt you can reach your goal. Go get it!

  6. Christen says:

    This is an incredibly brave thing to do…and completely in character from the little I know about you from your site. Thanks for bringing what’s unseen into the realm of the seen through your actions.

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